A Big Welcome Back Hug to the Spring & Summer Farmers’ Market Season – First Up, May 2013 Line-Up!

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asparagus at Trinity Bellwoods farmers market

Aside from December (hello Christmas cookies and baking and dinners!), May is my favourite food month of the entire year because for one, the patio perfect weather is luscious and balmy and for another, I get to give a big welcome back bear hug to so many of my beloved farmers’ markets!  While I won’t be able to visit as many as I used to (working Monday to Friday will do that!), I’m really looking forward to hitting up the markets I didn’t get to visit last year (if you can believe it, there are still a handful that I still haven’t been to!).  My heart is feeling so full and excited just from the anticipation of everything coming back within the next 3 months.  Farmers’ markets, market events, outdoor food stands – it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN.  Get those tote bags ready: here is the returning May market line-up in the order they’re coming back!  Don’t forget to visit the Farmer’s Market page for the entire market listing and Ate by Ate’s snazzy Facebook “Springtime Asparagus & Rhubarb” gallery!

rhubarb at East York farmers market

Farmers’ Markets and Market Events in Toronto – Returning in May 2013

Sherway Farmers’ Market, May 3 – October 25.  Fridays, 8am-2pm.  Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre, 25 The West Mall off Hwy 427 and the Queensway in Etobicoke.  The farmers’ market is located at the far northeast parking lot between the North Queen St. and Sherway Rd. entrances.  http://www.sherwaymarket.com/

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market, May 7 – October 29.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  Northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park at Dundas Street West and Shaw Street.  http://www.tbfm.ca/

Trinity Bellwoods Park farmers market

Weston Farmers’ Market, May 11 – October 26.  Saturdays, 7am-2pm.  14 John Street at Weston Rd. and Lawrence Ave. West.  http://westonvillagebia.com

Appletree Market in the Village, May 14 – October 8.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  June Rowlands Park, corner of Mount Pleasant Rd. and Davisville Ave. in Mount Pleasant Village.  http://www.appletreemarkets.ca/

East York Farmers’ Market, May 14 – November 5.  Tuesdays, 8am-2pm.  East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue at the corner of Coxwell and Mortimer Avenue.

Toronto Botanical Gardens Organic Farmers’ Market, May 16 – October 10.  Thursdays, 3pm-7pm.  777 Lawrence Ave. East at Leslie Ave.  This brand new market for 2012 is taking place at Toronto’s famed Edwards Gardens!  http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/enjoy/special-events/market/

Withrow Farmers’ Market, May 18 – October 26.  Saturdays, 9am-1pm.  725 Logan Ave. at the north end of Withrow Park, between Carlaw and Logan.  http://www.withrowpark.ca/wiki/wiki.php

Montgomery’s Inn Farmers’ Market, May 22 – December 24.  Wednesdays, 2pm-6pm.  4709 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke.  Enjoy fresh baked bread from the inn’s wood-fired oven, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, honey and more!  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#montgomery

Junction Farmers’ Market, May 25 – November 9.  Saturdays, 8:30am-12:30pm.  Green P parking lot located at 385 Pacific Ave. by Dundas Street West.  This farmers’ market is The Junction neighbourhood’s first and they’re back for their sophomore year!  http://www.junctionmarket.ca/

The Junction, Toronto

summer strawberries at Junction farmers market

Leslieville Farmers’ Market, May 26 – October 27.  Sundays, 9am-2pm.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave., between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave.  The market is back for their 3rd summer and fall season!  http://leslievillemarket.com/

Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market, May 26.  12pm-7pm.  Kensington Market (west of Spadina Ave., eats of Bellevue Ave., south of College Street, north of Dundas Street West).  Pedestrian Sundays are back for their 10th year!  Come out and enjoy the street festivals, market vendors, street food, and more on the last Sunday of the month – car and traffic free!  Streets are closed off to car traffic during Pedestrian Sunday hours.  http://www.pskensington.ca/

Metro Hall Farmers’ Market, May 27 – October 27.  Thursdays, 8am-2pm.  55 John Street at David Pecaut Square at King Street West.

Riverdale Farm Farmers’ Market, May 28 – October 15.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  Riverdale Farm located at Riverdale Park West at 201 Winchester Street by Sumach St.  http://www.riverdalefarm.ca/about-the-farm/farmers-market/

North York Civic Centre Farmers’ Market, May 30 – October 31.  Thursdays, 8am-2:30pm.  5100 Yonge Street, just north of Elmwood Avenue.  The farmers’ market, with its vast array of baked goods, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more, takes place outdoors at Mel Lastman Square.

heirloom tomatoes at North York and Mel Lastman Square farmers market

Farmers’ Markets and Market Events in Markham and Surrounding

Hillcrest Mall Farmers’ Market, May 2 – October 28.  Wednesdays, 10am-6pm and Sundays, 9am-5pm.  West parking lot outside of The Bay (facing Carrville Rd) at Hillcrest Mall, located at 9350 Yonge Street and 16th Ave/Carrville Rd (16th Ave. becomes Carrville west of Yonge Street).  http://onrichmondhill.com/events.php?id=13831

Aurora Farmers’ Market & Artisan Fair, May 4 – October 26.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm.  Town Park at Wells St. and Mosley St. southeast of Yonge Street and Wellington St. East.  Indoor markets during the winter move into the Aurora Cultural Centre.  http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/farmersmarket

Downtown Stouffville Farmers’ Market, May 9 – October 10.  Thursdays, 2pm-7pm.  Located at Park Drive and Main Street (for geographic reference, between Ninth Line and Tenth Line). http://www.townofws.com/farmersmarket.asp

Main Street Markham Farmers’ Market, May 11 – September 28.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm.  Located on the outdoor terrace at 132 Robinson Street and Markham Road (Main Street Markham North), just north of Highway 7 in Old Markham Village.  There are free parking lots in the area behind many of the retail storefronts, the closest being the parking lot behind Scotiabank.  http://www.mainstreetmarkham.com/page.asp?pageid=5

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Snatching Radishes and Ogling Quinoa Salads and Scones – The Farmers’ Market at Riverdale Farm!

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It was hot yesterday.  Disgustingly hot.  Face flaming, sweat dripping down from my forehead hot.  And yet there I was, walking to the Riverdale Farm farmers’ market yesterday afternoon from the Eaton Centre in the muggy, sticky, gross heat.  Granted, I was wearing my little bucket hat and the sun kept coming and going while I was walking, but when it’s muggy out, it sticks to you and makes you feel all sorts of bleh.  I told myself I would go though so I kept walking, keeping my eye on the prize, and breathing a huge sigh of relief when Riverdale Park’s towering trees came into view, wafting in a light breeze.  THANK GOODNESS FOR NATURE’S LEAFY GREENS! 

The farmers’ market was in full swing and while it wasn’t as big as the one I visited last summer, market goers were snatching up goodies left and right and carrying their wares in  tote bags as they surveyed their possible purchase.  And I mean snatching.  As I was taking photos of the radishes up top, I was literally surrounded on all sides by people buying bunch after bunch.  A few seconds after I took my shot, there were only 2 bunches left on the table.  I kid you not!  One bunch of radishes after another kept disappearing and I thanked my lucky stars I got there when I did because otherwise, I would have been staring at a few remaining scraggly roots. 

The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market just started their 2012 season last week (Tuesdays from 3pm-7pm) so I have no doubt that the market will expand and get a little larger over the course of the summer.  Despite the smaller size though, I still found myself wanting to pick up more than a few items to take home.  What can I say, I’m a shopaholic at heart and that clearly extends to food! 

I saw some familiar vendors and faces at the market yesterday, including St. John’s Bakery, La Fiesta Catering (who appear at both Fresh Wednesdays and Tasty Thursdays at Nathan Phillips Square with some of the meanest cornmeal mashed potatoes and pulled pork in the city!), LKP Culinary Groove, and Best Baa Dairy!  Best Baa Dairy was back with their huge assortment of cheese and goat’s milk ice cream, LPK Culinary Groove had their vegan cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and sweet potato donut holes on hand, La Fiesta Catering was firing up their grill with kabobs and succulent hot food delights, and St. John’s Bakery was dishing up the bread, cookies, and scones! 

I was so tempted to grab an ice cream and some of La Fiesta’s cornmeal mashed potatoes (and, I admit, a smidgen of their amazing pulled pork), but I convinced myself I’d come back for them another time and instead, snatched up two amazing scones from St. John’s Bakery.  At $2.50 a pop, their scones came in a varity of amazing flavours such as apple cinnamon, cranberry pumpkin seed, blueberry, and lemon currant among others.  This was the first time I had come across any of St. John’s Bakery’s scones and I was so excited!  Especially when I found out they had a lemon one.  I took home a lemon currant and a cranberry pumpkin seed and savoured them this morning with my brother.  We popped them in the microwave for 15 seconds and they were good to go.  They were so good!  They were pull apart soft and incredibly flavourful and I only wish I had thought to put some apricot jam because that would have been delightfully amazing.

Familiar faces aside, I also happened upon some new vendors at the market, one of them being Rob and Barry’s Vegan and Vegetarian Foods!  Rob and Barry’s business and cooking operations take place right here in Toronto in a commercial kitchen located in Kensington Market, and they’re hoping to open up a retail shop in the near future so they can further spread the vegetarian and vegan love!

For those of you who love taking advantage of vegetarian and vegan options, the Riverdale farmers’ market has welcomed a new vendor selling everything from veggie pasta and pizza, caponata (a Sicilian eggplant salad or dish typically associated with antipasti), quinoa black bean salad, quinoa mango salad, and quinoa chickpea salad!  Prices range from $3-$4 for salads (sold in reusable containers) and $4-$8 for the heftier items.  The food is perfect for take-away to take back home, for picnics, for lunch, or for an afternoon snack (yes, that’s right, I’d eat this as a snack.  I know how to pack it in) and it’s great knowing there’s another vegetarian and/or vegan option on hand for when you want something lighter.

I’m really looking forward to coming back later on in the summer, seeing the market grow, and hopefully, have myself a nice little picnic out on the park when it’s less gross out!  Muggy weather aside, I’m glad I came because I left with some wonderful scones, was reunited with some old food favourites, and was introduced to new food options for the next time around.

*****

The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market is located at 201 Winchester St. in Riverdale Park.  My way of getting here is to either walk along Carlton St. eastbound from Yonge St., or take the College St. streetcar eastbound to Parliament St. and Carlton.  From there, keep walking eastbound on Carlton until you get to Sumach St. and you’re there!  This year, the market is held every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm from May 22 to October 30.